In the weeks before we left Norway to come to America, Michael listened to ‘Go West‘ as he walked to work every day. Going west was an adventure, with wonderful parts and difficult parts. It is strange, in the days before we leave here, to be in a place which so soon will only exist for us as memories. I think Michael’s favourite part of being here was all the photo opportunities. The images take on lives of their own, often more resonant with suggestiveness than the moments themselves had been. The dogs panting at the Interstate Oasis, the fierce red rock of Moab, the cross-hatched textures of earth in the Kennecot Copper Mine, and the mountain-tops, lakes and deep forests of the Glacier National Park. Below the fold are images that didn’t make it into earlier posts – a montage of doorways, cars, characters, creatures, and, always, the open road.
Felix has been getting into the spirit of things. No, really. This week, for the first time, he has been all about putting things inside other things. The other night in the bath, he spent a good ten minutes assiduously stuffing his squeezy sheep into a plastic cup, and then immediately scrabbling it out again. Michael, I said, come and look at this! And he sat on the bathroom floor, and we cheered and cheered, amazed at our son putting a toy in and out of a cup, over and over. Clearly a genius. (This is not to discount the pleasure of putting a baby in a box.)
We have only two days left here. We are mostly packed. We’ll ship our last two boxes tomorrow, and somehow fit everything else into our bags (maybe Felix will help). We’ve started cleaning our apartment but there is lots more cleaning to go. It will be a relief to get on the plane, despite the fact a long flight with a nine month old may not be terribly relaxing.
Today was Thanksgiving, and we had dinner with two of the women from my Mom’s group and their families. It was a lovely way to conclude our time here. The Mom’s meetup group has been, for me, one of the best things about being here. They even held a farewell meetup for me on Tuesday; I was so touched.
The past few days I have been walking my familiar paths, stopping in my familiar places, feeling like a ghost of myself.
On Monday we said goodbye to my friend Katya and her daughter Willow, who is almost exactly Felix’s age. Sharing our entry into motherhood over the past six months has been wonderful and I felt so sad after saying goodbye. We have decided to rectify the situation and see each other one more time before we leave. And I do so hope they visit us in Norway someday.
But this time next week we’ll be in Australia. This sounds too good to be true!
Michael took these pictures back in September, but we thought they were too good not to share.
Warning: gratuitous cuteness ahead.
My plan was to dress Felix as a pumpkin, get him to hold a pumpkin, sit him down among the autumn leaves, and get Michael to take pictures of him. (These are the discretions we allow ourselves as parents.) But he was more interested in the leaves. And the leaves, I admit, were pretty great.
It’s hard not to feel a little melancholy in Autumn. Not that you’d know it from these photos, that Michael took last weekend in Salt Lake City. That day was just beautiful – perfectly mild and almost still, with a hint of cool when a breeze brushed your cheek, and a gentle warmth on your skin from the sun. (Sorry about all those adjectives.)
This week in Idaho Falls it has been much much colder – there has been frost most mornings – but it has been blue and bright every day, and the air is utterly clear. It’s very dry. Everything is charged with static. At night when I snuggle into bed my duvet lights up with dozens of sparks, like a mini lightening storm.
A couple of days ago the tree outside our apartment had the perfect ratio of yellow leaves on its branches and heaped in a bright ring at its feet. I recalled the many summer evenings I’d sat out there with Felix. One day, walking back from the park, I passed two girls raking leaves in their front yard. ‘We’re making a leaf pile’, the smaller one told me. ‘And then we’re going to jump in it!’
Just so much warm beautiful shiny sun. Because of the altitude, the sun is quite fierce here – even when the temperature drops a little, in the sun it’s hot. I’m just loving these slightly milder fall days. This feels like the first real summer I’ve had since leaving Australia eight years ago. Apparently the fall can be fickle here – winter can hit with a bang at the beginning of October. But last year it was long and mild, and it looks like this year will be the same.
This morning I went for a walk along the river with the mother’s group. There was about eight of us, all with strollers (several with double strollers!). We stopped at the park half way along for the kids to play. One of the little one and a half year old girls has taken a shine to Felix – she keeps coming up to him and saying his name. He loves it. He is such a social creature. And talking to the other mothers is just so great. It’s such a brilliant group.
Felix prompts conversations wherever we go. He flirts with everyone. This morning an old lady stopped to say hello in town, and then she spotted us again in the bookshop this afternoon. Felix stared and stared at the man setting up his computer at the table next to us, until he relented and started showing us pictures of his family. Felix’s favourite regular acquaintance is one of the barristas in Barnes and Noble. (She loves him too.) He looks forward to seeing her so much that as soon as we stand in line to order drinks he grins and jiggles his legs in anticipation.
I’ve had a madly busy week trying to put the final edits into an article, in between caring for the little guy. The days have been pretty exhausting. But it’s done now. And the sun just shines and shines.
I had intended to go to the Basque museum today (there is apparently a lot of Basque culture here in Idaho), but due to a glitch in my map-reading (not unprecedented), we ended up at the zoo instead. A very good thing as it turns out because the zoo is absolutely gorgeous, especially the butterfly house.
Just the most beautiful place. I wasn’t quite coordinated enough to snap a picture of a butterfly sitting on Felix’s hat, but he seemed to enjoy all the flowers and fluttering things.
Yesterday I fell in love with Boise even a little bit more when I discovered this place by the river. It’s the Log Cabin Literary Center, and they host literary events and writing camps for kids. Awesome.
It’s situated on the greenbelt, right near the art gallery and natural history museum and the zoo, and miles and miles of walking tracks by the river. As Felix is a bit young for writers’ camps yet, we headed on.
We strolled along the river for a bit and then test-drove our new picnic blanket.
Good for rolling and for reading.
It’s actually quite hard to get pictures of Felix doing anything but grinning manically at the camera, because he can be entertaining himself quite nicely but as soon as you pull the camera out he gets a huge glint in his eye and decides he wants to eat it, declaring enthusiastically ‘aha! aha! aha!’
Then we were all tuckered out.
This morning we drove for four hours past nothing much to get to Boise, the capital of Idaho. At one point we stopped to give Felix a cuddle and a little yellow plane flew past to say hello.
Boise (pronounced Boy-zee) is gorgeous. One of the most livable cities I have ever seen. It reminds us a little of Christchurch. We feel like civilized people again (Idaho Falls is a bit of a scrap-heap in comparison).
There are coffee shops and interesting shops and buildings and restaurants at every turn, and one of the loveliest things is that the streets are fairly narrow and the blocks really quite small, so walking around is easy and pleasurable.
Felix had a fabulous afternoon lolling around in his stroller and chilling with his parents in various coffee shops. When we stopped for pizza for dinner, he had a great time chewing on a crust. Michael has a conference here for three days and I am so so excited about exploring the place.
You’ve certainly had a big week, little guy. Yesterday we tried you out in your new hiking backpack at Mesa falls – you’re only just big enough, but you were ok for a short walk, and you liked looking around.
This week you’ve discovered so many new sounds to make – and you speak to us in indecipherable baby sentences, complete with intonation. You’re particularly impressed with a sort of squeak you’ve learnt to make. With much concentrated effort, you’ve also learnt to grab hold of your toes, and even to roll over onto your belly! You are very serious about these accomplishments, and practice them assiduously. You make us laugh and you laugh right back at us. We are flabbergasted at your new skills. I know it’s the same for parents everywhere, and not particularly exciting for anyone else to hear about, but you truly give us so much joy.
You’re not so keen on sleeping for long stretches over night any more, however. Michael says: ‘It will get better. Don’t worry, I had a great sleep last night.’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I’m glad to hear it.’
We went for a drive today and came across a herd of cows and some real-life cowboys.
There were a lot of very small, very sweet calves,
and atmospheric clouds.
In other news, on top of adjusting to the new time-zone, Felix is recovering from his first ever cold. It’s not very nice for him, but not as terrible as I feared it would be. He just needs a bit more reassurance than usual, and has been very snuffly today. I haven’t slept for more than two hours straight for several days, but am holding up ok. Here he is getting into the spirit of things.